So when one thinks Opera it is easy to think corsets’, lots of makeup and old people listening attentively to something that makes no sense to you as a Team B groupie. Well get out of your stereotypical view and picture a beautiful young black lady with a warm personality and a smile that just warms your heart and you get one of Mdantsanse’s great voices in young Litho Nqai.

From humble beginnings and an Alumni of Stirling High School. As a go getter at a young age she entered herself at the East London Eisteddfod as her school did not offer music (Port Rex Technical High School). Following popular reaction from East London she entered the Queenstown Eisteddfod where she got a mark that had never been recorded in history an ‘A+++++’ symbol. This young gem was then spotted by Ms Leoni Amour who helped her with singing lessons and got Litho into finishing her schooling at Stirling High School where she received honourary colours for singing.

Litho then came to the Cape where her career has blossomed into what it is today, she completed a music diploma at the UCT South African School of Music. She has performed in a number of productions during her studies. The ZuzaNation team recently sat down with the young songstress to get to know her a bit better and understand why opera instead of popular music. “Since I started singing classical voice in grade 7 I never had a doubt
about what I wanted to do… it was not one of my options it was the only one.” It’s amazing that she knew at such a young age that this was the path that she wanted to take, while the rest of her peers would have wanted to follow a more popular route. It is said that nothing ever happens by chance but it was a mistake that steered Litho in the direction of Opera, “I recorded a show called Imizwilili by mistake on our VCR when I was young and after listening to the people singing there I started singing along and realized that I could do this and then I told my teacher Mrs Ross and she helped me along my way in my grade 7 year. Then I got more training in high school from my voice teacher Leoni Amour.”

No longer the little girl from the Eastern Cape with a sweet voice and big dreams, now we talking Litho the young woman in the Mother city, Litho the performer who travels the world, “I was selected to join the Schleswig Holstein Musik Festival in Germany in 2012 and 2013. Then in 2014 I went to Barcelona to perform Porgy and Bess with Cape Town Opera” Barcelona nogal wow, surely a lot happens on the road? “Whoa I feel like whenever people leave their normal spaces they really literally have an adventure or even a fantasy life which is impossible to maintain when we come home. But I’m not snitching (laughs).”  Surely Litho has stories from her travels that one day she will reveal in a biography.

When we caught up with this beautiful voice she had just finished a production ‘ Le nozze di Figaro’, where she plays the part of the countess, “Mozart is not an easy sing but doing the countess has helped me find ways of using my voice more economically and the whole experience was just a great learning curve for me. I enjoyed it so much in the end though even though it was a hard and rocky road to get there. All thanks to Professor Khan and Professor Gobato not forgetting my awesome cast members I had a great show”

Having celebrated Women’s month in September, It was rather interesting to get her view on the role and plight of women in the creative arts. “Women will always be in some sort of struggle but I feel like we are in an era where things are changing and we are getting to some level of equality but the struggle is not over at all.”

Litho is full of life and is destined for great things, our country is not ready for her. Within the black community yes there is support for choral music but is there enough of that same support for our black opera singers, “Opera is lacking support in this country in general, the black community is very rich with talent and a strong choral culture but the lack of knowledge about the opportunities is a great problem. Which leaves the country with rough diamonds that don’t know how to further their talents and make them a business.” It is quite saddening that these ‘black diamond’s as Litho refers to them have no support to help them hone their craft. Let’s hope that her success will be an inspiration to many more.